29 Seek Sanctuary in Japanese School

Beijing, China

On Wednesday, the first of September 2004, at around 10:30 AM, a group of 29 North Korean refugees, which included 3 children, 15 women and 11 men, entered a Japanese school in Beijing, and requested asylum.

That same afternoon, all refugees were transferred to the consulate section of the Japanese embassy, where they are being protected. In previous cases, once refugees are handed over to Chinese authorities, within a few days they are repatriated to North Korea, where they face severe punishment and in a few extreme cases, summary execution.

Our organization, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees and The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea have no connection with this incident, other than as concerned parties, but we wish to express deep concern regarding the safety of these refugees. We strongly urge the Japanese government to take the following measures:

    1. Continue providing protection for the 29 refugees, accept their request, which reportedly is safe passage to a third country, and assure the implementation of that request;
    2. Refuse to hand over the 29 refugees to Chinese authorities if such handover is demanded;
    3. Accept into Japan any members of the 29 refugees expressing the desire for such entry.

Respectfully submitted,

• Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
TEL: 81-3-3815-8127

• The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea
TEL: 81-90-8512-7610